So I gave my first presentation as a postgrad student in a new place! So I usually like to look to my screen once in a while while I'm talking and this time the presentation was projected to the audience on a screen. I was talking and had to walk back from the screen every time to change the slides. Hence there was some sort of disconnect in me changing the slides and me talking about the content. I also admit I did not get much time to prepare for the presentation.

So by the time I changed slides, I had to walk out infront of the screen and, look at it, and then begin talking about things. At one point, I actually missed talking about what was being said in the slides due to this disconnect.

Thing is, I actually planned and wanted to do super well on this. I worked really hard and had gotten beyond what could be termed as an acceptable result. I really regret messing it up with this presentation.

Can someone give me some advice on giving good presentations? Also throw anything else you want to at me?

  • 8
    Practice. Buy a remote control, so you don't have to touch your laptop. Practice. Mirror the projection display on your laptop screen. Practice. Make more time to prepare for the presentation. Practice. More importantly, practice.
    – JeffE
    Apr 28, 2017 at 21:02
  • You know, I actually bought one first time in my life just for this presentation but ended up not using it because its connector did not fit into my laptop (bought it online, got ripped off). Yes I lacked practice this time, I focused on the individual slides themselves but did not get a chance to go over the whole presentation in one go.
    – ping
    Apr 28, 2017 at 21:12
  • 2
    I expected a better story from the title. :( Sounds a bit clunky, but I wouldn't describe that as "messed it up": just sounds like you were a bit unprepared. Like @JeffE I'd mostly just suggest taking more time to prepare, and practice start to finish (this is especially important for gauging the duration of your talks). I wouldn't worry too much about little pauses if it takes you a moment to collect yourself at times: sometimes your audience can use that time to think about what you said previously (as long as they aren't way too long, and as long as you don't spend the time apologizing).
    – Bryan Krause
    Apr 28, 2017 at 21:15
  • Why look at the screen, rather than the audience? Apr 28, 2017 at 21:27
  • Sorry it was more like "I looked at the screen once in a while to get an overview of what to talk about next"
    – ping
    Apr 28, 2017 at 21:32

1 Answer 1


When presentations go bad, and sometimes they do, it can give us a little PTSD. First, know that presentations get easier as your career progresses, because you have a better handle of the material. You will also experience more hiccups in your presentations (poorly-placed screens/laptops, unexpected interruptions, computer failures, etc), which will make you better prepared to give presentations under less-than-ideal circumstances. When I look back on my very-first lecture (more than a decade ago!), I cringe to remember how basically I read a outline for 50 minutes. Now I barely use notes for 3-hour lectures.

But bad presentations happen. A couple of years ago I was invited to speak to a room of 300+ healthcare providers on a technology my team was developing. On stage, it became painfully clear that the only people interested in the topic were the cinference's organizers who attentively sat up front while I watched 295 participants read their phones for 55 minutes. I also learned that I had to sit in the back of the auditorium to give the demonstration of our technology, leaving the stage empty for 10 minutes. It look me a good year to shake this off. Later, I realized that most of the problems were out of my control, but I prepared better the next time and it went great!

So, shake it off. Don't be so hard on yourself. Next time, ask someone else to change your slides, if the room set up is strange. It's okay to adapt to the situation! We have all been there and it will get better.

  • 4
    [Speaking as someone dealing with mental illness] You may want to use a term other than PTSD to refer to what is really a temporary worry. Apr 29, 2017 at 0:26
  • Public speaking is one of the most common fears, so I disagree that it may be a temporary worry and not cause anxiety for people. I am a trained social worker and a former mental health worker. I'm sorry you found this offensive, but also don't want to minimize this person's experience if he or she is experiencing a social anxiety due to this event. Apr 29, 2017 at 14:25
  • 1
    Social anxiety is still not PTSD.
    – skymningen
    May 29, 2017 at 9:42

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